The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time—twenty years in all. Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord . So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only. Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord . On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord .” Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah. – 1 Samuel 7:2-6
Well that was a quick trip through the book of Ruth. Very few references to water but Ruth did provide an amazing example of faithful following. This post marks the entry in to the book of 1 Samuel. A lot has already happened in the book up to this first reference to water. The Israelites have been providing an excellent example of how not to follow God.
The Israelites have been treating the Ark of the Covenant like a good luck charm instead of honoring the covenant that it represents. They end up losing it, along with many men, to the Philistines. They have lost their symbol of the covenant and, more importantly, they lost their close relationship with God. Their drifting away from God began some time ago as a slow fade after crossing over the Jordan into the Promised Land.
Samuel arrives on the scene after God called to him while he was sleeping. Samuel responded appropriately by answering God’s call with “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel is a leader who remembers how to lead by following God.
The Israelites are convinced that they need to “turn back to the Lord” and Samuel agrees to intercede on their behalf. The water comes in this verse when Samuel is interceding for the Israelites. The Israelites draw water, I assume from a well, and then they do something odd….they pour it out before the Lord. Then they confess and fast. Is there a hidden gem here? What is the meaning of the poured out water?
Water, since the very beginning of my journey walking on water, is something that God has provided for His people through hidden wells, rivers, springs, dew, and abundant rain. Here God, through Samuel, has asked the Israelites to pour their water out. I think this act is for the them a bit like saying what Samuel said to god “Speak, for your servant is listening.”… or in this case “provide us water for we are thirsty”. They were achieving the proper posture and perspective to listen to God and follow Him unconditionally.
Prayer: God may we rely upon You for the living water that can quench our thirsty souls.